Customer Experience: The Next Big Competitive Advantage

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Let’s discuss customer experience (CX). According to this post last week, CX is also in danger due to…hype. So I’m reporting to duty to combat this! Plus, yesterday’s community manager hangout about magical customer experiences was encouraging.

customer experience

photo credit: mordefroid via photopin cc

This is not a fancy term for customer service or a fad. It’s a “sleeper” (not widely recognized – like the NIU Huskies football team in the early season). It influences business growth and results through increased conversions, lead generation, brand advocates and more. As Jeannie Walters pointed out yesterday during the hangout, customer service is reactive and customer experience is proactive. You make the first move.

I’m talking about every flipping interaction your potential leads, customers or buddies checking out your website (or store) experiences along the customer journey relevant to you and your business. When you’re there or not. You want to master satisfaction plus some before, during and after the product/service lifecycle. It’s a heavy topic but to give you an idea, here are some touchpoints to consider:

  • Amount of time it takes you to respond to feedback and questions from customers. Ensure a two way street for communication, especially in real time social media. Are you enthusiastic about their happiness factor and eliminating any painful experiences?
  • How easy is it to discover or use the contact form, checkout, download your content offerings or subscribe? If it’s a long and clicky process, fix it.
  • Do you say thank you to your customers and brand advocates? Surprise them once in a while? Keep the romance alive!
  • Sometimes there are breakups. No need to piss them off by ignoring their request to cancel. But you could be kind and clever (i.e. I once saw a webpage asking me to select my reason why I wanted to leave underneath the line “An angel just lost it’s wings today.” Awww.
  • Satisfy the customer’s needs beyond the product. (Dig Hubspot and all their free ebooks beyond their inbound marketing software).
  • Design of your 404 Error Message – Notice how some make you laugh? Or scold you. Like, shame on you for not figuring it out.

It may strike you I’m talking a bit about user experience instead of customer experience ..and that’s not completely wrong. But usability has to mirror the overall experience. In case some people need reminding…. humans still don’t have an app working on the computer for them!

The experience is as essential as the product

Here’s a really great example I came across this week (I am dying to go in geek review mode but it will have to wait).

So the G+ community oneQube beta testers was birthed. I was so impressed with what Robert Moore did when I joined. He announced “Starting today, I am going to post a “oneQube Search of the Day” challenge to get you diving into your followers with different search queries. Today’s challenge is to see how many of your followers refer bacon!”  See what he did there? Instead of setting up a place to only discuss bugs, share tips and gather feature requests he went the extra mile to keep us motivated to master oneQube. I’d probably set aside a chunk of time in the week to play with it instead of effectively studying oneQube. And here I am writing about it because it left such an impression.

That’s gold.

Be your customer’s friend. We’re all in this together FTW.

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Anne Reuss
Addicted to adrenaline, adventures and social media, Anne Reuss needs her fuel and gets it from coffee, fitness and the occassional slurpee. Being Deaf has only taught her to love challenge and listen abnormally well. She is a beer-loving homebrewer and community manager for 360Connext, a customer experience consulting firm, and a freelance marketing consultant.
Anne Reuss

@AnneReuss

Customer experience cmgr. Mad for fitness, accessibility, #TechSexy, ncca fball, adventures & slurpees. Deaf beerhunter & brewer, blogger addicted to adrenaline
You Take A Picture Of Your Food And Tag It. What You Get Is Less Hunger. http://t.co/5qAIpq1LTQ Let's do it! #mealforameal - 1 hour ago
Anne Reuss
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Comments

  1. I'm a huge advocate of UX. Users need and deserve a great experience and some extra surprise (your hubspt ebook example) to keep them satisfied even if that surprise wasn't the initial reason why they came to you. Your last paragraph is great. It is amazing how many people adjust and go an extra mile when you just ask them to. People naturally want to learn and improve, so by giving them the challenge to do so they in turn actually do! Great post, thanks.

  2. royatkinson says:

    While I perceive the movement toward customer experience as a field of concentration, I think this post contributes more to the hype than to clarification.

    "As Jeannie Walters pointed out yesterday during the hangout, customer service is reactive and customer experience is proactive. You make the first move."

    Well, no, and let me explain why I think this is not correct.

    1) You cannot proactively experience something. Think about it. Experience, by its very nature, looks back, not forward.
    2) If we are talking about how the customer will experience something, we're not focusing on the customer. We can try our best to anticipate customer needs, but ultimately it the customer who has the experience and who decides whether it is good, bad or indifferent.

    While I agree with careful consideration of "the customer journey" and taking care to make the experience positive, consistent, and repeatable. But let's talk about customer experience for what it is, not for what we'd like it to be.

    • Hi Roy, my point about customer experience being proactive is about the planning and thought to what you do want the customer experience to be, instead of reacting to problems ( which is a critical part OF the customer experience, as well.) I would argue businesses must think about what they want for the customers, while at the same time constantly paying attention to the actual customer experience. That way, you can look for ways to bring the actual experience closer to the ideal.

    • Hi Roy! You make a very interesting point. I think that anticipating the customers' needs and desires is making the first move – behind the scenes. Sometimes we won't know what the customer's reaction will be since not all will voice what they disliked. So we should sweat the small stuff and consider different touch points the customer may experience during the 'journey' while factoring in the actual experiences.

  3. Thanks, Anne! I love seeing UX and customer experience through your eyes.

  4. Great thinking here Anne. I love the concept, "customer service is reactive and customer experience is proactive". Both are equally important and I don't think either can be successful without the other.

  5. Gettysburg Gerry says:

    Hi Anne, what resonated with me was your line "Keep the romance alive" I think that unexpected connection for whatever reason is so important. As my latest post talks about, I stay in contact with my clients pretty often, and many times I just share with them something that is relevant to them, just because I was thinking of them. I have come to notice that really appreciate that. I think that experience is the same whether we are talking about customer or client experience. Besides, it's much more fun that way…. as always.. You ROCK my friend…

  6. It's always been the secret competitive advantage.

  7. Awesome stuff Anne! :)

    It really is all about the experience users & customers have. I love you how you mentioned the 404 pages, not many think about that one! :)

  8. Anne, you nailed with this, "customer service is reactive and customer experience is proactive." GoodJob!

  9. Andrew McFarland says:

    For a twist on customer experience, your readers may find it useful to think about how _the memory of_ the customer experience may be more important than the experience itself. Recent post here (with accompanying TED video)… http://bit.ly/WXyxu4

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